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Micheál Martin elected new leader of Fianna Fáil

The former Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs succeeds Brian Cowen after his dramatic resignation as leader of the party.

The former Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs succeeds Brian Cowen after his dramatic resignation as leader of the party.

Mr Martin emerged as the front-runner for the leadership of Fianna Fáil after Brian Cowen announced he was stepping down as leader of Fianna Fáil on 22 January 2011.

The former cabinet Minister, who had been critical of Brian Cowen's leadership, won the support of his party on 26 January over rival candidates Éamon Ó Cuív, Mary Hanafin, and the Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan.

The new leader of Fianna Fáil distanced himself from his most recent predecessors and apologised for his party's handling of the economic crisis.

"I am sorry for the mistakes we made as a party and that I've made as a minister, very sorry for those mistakes that we made."

But Mr Martin said that putting all the blame on Fianna Fáil for Ireland's economic crisis was not fair.

"People seeking partisan gain, or offering superficial commentary, promote the idea that there are simple explanations. The truth is that the biggest failings have been systemic failings which go to the heart of our political and governing system."

The new Fianna Fáil leader said the party had to break the link to big business and get back to being the party of people of modest means and hard work.

The former Fianna Fáil leader Brian Cowen and the three other candidates in the party's leadership race pledged full support to the new leader.

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